Editor’s Note: For those of you who don’t know Derek yet, you’re in luck. Basically this is like getting to ride shotgun to some of the world’s scariest places and waves, with one of the nicest, most talented dudes there is. He shoots photos, surfs the world’s biggest waves, travels at the slightest breath of wind the old fashioned way and does so with a throwback mentality that is very refreshing in this day and age. Derek is driving all night with a large coffee and not stopping until Mavericks. Quite literally — in installment number one. He shot all the photos in the gallery below and jotted down what happened when Mavericks broke for the first time this year. —Travis
3:00 a.m., San Diego, California. Fall.
Alarm. Wakeup. Coffee. Pack the truck.
I arrived in Half Moon bay at noon, checked the buoys and the swell was climbing fast. I tried to take a nap in the back of my truck in the Mavericks parking lot, but I could hear excited voices and surfer’s waxing boards. Without any rest, I got out of my truck and got ready to surf. I surfed pumping Mavericks all afternoon and ended the night with a few beers at the Old Princeton Landing in Half Moon Bay.
Mavericks was going to be good again in the morning, so I slept in the back of my truck in the lot next to the bar.
6 a.m. Half Moon Bay, CA.
I paddled out to Mavericks in the dark with Zach Wormhoudt. Zach’s been surfing Mavericks for 22 winter seasons and builds skateparks for a living. His dad built Derby Park in Santa Cruz. Legendary. And Zach was the first person to take me out to Mavericks in 2004.
Before sunrise, we both caught a few waves. Then Zach dropped into a heavy one and was lip launched — his board flipped and speared him in the armpit. I saw him struggling in the impact zone, paddling with one arm and barely making it to the channel. I asked if he’s OK, and he said it felt like he had a bad rash on the inside of his arm. He tried to surf it off, catching one wave before heading in. I asked him if he wanted help paddling in, and he said, “No, I’m fine, keep surfing.”
When Zach made it to the beach, he peeled off his wetsuit, and said a chunk of fat from his arm flew out and landed on the sand. He panicked a bit when he saw the big, open wound in his armpit. Blood everywhere and then he watched a seagull eat the fat that just fell out of his arm. Zach ended up getting 3 different layers of stitches, adding up to over 30. The doctor said if the cut was a fraction higher or lower, Zach would have bled out or cut the tendons in his arm.
During the same session, Darryl ‘Flea’ Virostko was on a Jet Ski doing water patrol. Flea is one of the best surfers at Mavericks, so its great to see him out there doing water safety.
Some of the standouts during those few sessions were Shawn Dollar, Skindog, Zach Wormhoudt, Nic Lamb, Anthony Tashnik, Ben Andrews, Grant Washburn, Michael Joshua, Travis Payne Colin Dwyer, Savannah and Pat Shaughnessy, Kyle Thierman, Lance Harrimon, Matty Lopez and Ryan Seelbach. SF’s Alex Martin made a big comeback after his season ending knee injury last winter. Alex wiped out on one of the biggest and meanest waves at Mavericks last year and said he almost drowned, blowing his knee apart and tweaking his neck. Savannah Shaughnessy continues to raise the bar for women’s big wave surfing. Savannah took off on a meaty double up, was launched and broke her board in 3 places. Bianca Valenti is another girl who’s been charging big waves in California.
The way this winter season is setting up, I’m sure I’ll be back real soon. Thank you Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay. —Derek Dunfee